3rd Annual Scholarship Fund-Raising Dinner to be held by Belmont Ruritan Club

Details of this dinner can be found on our calendar of events, or on our new, official webpage! For details, click here!

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A word about marketing local Ruritan Clubs

From the desk of the Rapidan District’s Publicity Chairperson, Linda Bradshaw:

I’d like to discuss publicity for a few minutes with our Ruritan Clubs today.

Whether we like to think about our Ruritan Clubs as businesses or not, they are, in fact, a type of business.

Target Market (free clip art)

Target Market (free clip art)

The primary goal of any business is to stay in business! In order for our Ruritan Clubs to “stay in business,” we must increase and maintain our membership!  We must “market” our clubs to the right “target market” in order to do that!

In order for our Ruritan Clubs to grow, we need to appeal to the younger, more technologically savvy generations. Those generations are our “target market.”

One of the most effective methods to market anything in today’s technology-heavy world is by using the Internet’s Social Media platforms.

Social Media (free clip art)

Social Media (free clip art)

Ruritan National workshops held at conventions advised the attendees to use websites, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote awareness and membership in our local Ruritan Clubs!  There is little doubt that Social Media is THE KEY to the future of Ruritan membership!

I would like to encourage each club to have BOTH a website and a Facebook Page.

Facebook (free clip art)

Facebook (free clip art)

Consider this:  Everyone that reads Facebook uses the Internet, but not everyone that uses the Internet reads Facebook!  Only 25% of Facebook users are in the United States, and 25% of Facebook users are under the age of ten. Although Facebook is still a valuable resource, there have been several articles this year that suggest that Facebook’s popularity is waning.  Of my own personal circle of family, friends, and neighbors, the majority of them have Internet access but refuse to join, or use Facebook. Yet they all use the Internet’s Google’s Search engine to find information that they need.

Internet - man searching online (free clip art)

Internet – man searching online (free clip art)

Having a “real” website that has the proper keywords built-in will help people find the information they are seeking about your club quickly and easily without having to search multiple posts through a long timeline on Facebook. “Real” websites can have “search” features and multiple pages that Facebook simply does not have. Don’t get me wrong – Facebook is a valuable supplemental resource that can enhance the publicity and marketing of a club. A “real” website, however, is the keystone of an Internet marketing campaign.

Sharing options on WordPress websites

Sharing options on WordPress websites

One useful feature of some websites I’ve developed (using the free, easy, user-friendly WordPress platform) is that they can be set up to automatically cross-post to their associated Facebook pages.  This is done on their “Sharing settings” page under the “Publicize” option (see photo above.) They can also be set up to cross-post to other platforms as well, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and more! That feature eliminates duplicity of work.  You can publish a post to the website, and be done with it! The information goes everywhere you can possibly want it to go!

Calendar of events (free clip art)

Calendar of events (free clip art)

The websites can also have calendar of events features, so your club can use it as a resource to publicize upcoming meetings and events.

Now, I understand that some clubs may have concerns about the costs and technical difficulties of buying, creating, and maintaining a website.  Not very long ago, websites WERE expensive, and difficult to buy, create and maintain.  Today the annual cost is very affordable.

For example, GoDaddy is selling domain names (dot coms) this month for $2.99 for the first year. Their renewal fees typically are below $20 per year.  (The prices vary, depending on sales and promotions at the time.)

Internet (free clip art)

Internet (free clip art)

By having the local clubs purchase their own domain, the local clubs can maintain total creative control over their own websites, and can create as simple, or as complex, a website as the club desires. The WordPress platform is free, and easy.  The WordPress Platform can be used to create a static page website for a club that only wants to have one or two pages that don’t change, or it can be used to create a blog-style, dynamic web page that can be updated with posts about current news and events.

The Rapidan District Cabinet will purchase a “real” domain name for the District, and purchase the web hosting service plan that will allow the Rapidan District to host unlimited websites on their server. The Rapidan District is offering to host the websites of local clubs within the Rapidan District on the District’s server for free. This offer applies to both existing sites, and new sites.  Hosting the local club’s websites on the District’s server will save local Ruritan Clubs a significant amount of money each year. (GoDaddy’s least expensive web hosting plan is $84/year, although it sometimes goes on sale for 50% off.)

By putting the local Ruritan club’s website on the District’s server, the local club can then spend the money saved on some other important Community Service Project! That is a win-win situation!

workshop (free clip art)

workshop (free clip art)

One free workshop was held in July 2014 to help local club’s volunteer webmasters understand the basics of creating a WordPress platform website.  Another free “make-up” workshop will be scheduled in the near future for those clubs whose webmasters were unable to attend the first one.

If your Rapidan District Ruritan Club is interested in participating in a future  free (yes, free!) workshop, please use the contact form below to express your interest and to advise when your volunteer webmaster would be available to attend a workshop!

SHARE Food Network Is a Great Way to Provide Community Service To Local Communities

SHARE Food Network Menu July 2014

SHARE Food Network Menu July 2014

The SHARE Food Menu for July 2014 (above) has been released.

The SHARE Food Network is a way to buy quality food at about half price. We can purchase it for personal use, but we can also use it to help needy families, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food drives, etc. How about instead of donating $100 to a local homeless shelter/soup kitchen/food pantry, we spend $100 on SHARE Food and donate $200 worth of food to the homeless shelter/soup kitchen/pantry? This is a great way to double the value of our contributions to good causes!

The Jefferson (VA) Ruritan Club uses the SHARE Food Network to help feed their sponsored needy families. Some club members use SHARE Food for their own families as well.

This is a great way to save money on food – and you do not have to disclose income. You do not need to be receiving food stamps. The food is top-quality. If you are not taking advantage of this opportunity to get good food for little money. This is run by Catholic Charities, but you do not have to be Catholic. Many of the distribution locations are in churches that are not Catholic. This is a TRUE community service project!

There are SHARE Food Network Distribution locations in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virgina, and West Virginia. Details for them can be found on the SHARE Food Network’s Find SHARE Site Page.

SHARE Food Network is currently looking to expand their distribution areas, and would be glad to send speakers to Ruritan clubs in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, with the hope that Ruritan Clubs might consider helping to support setting up new distribution areas in their own local communities. If your club is looking for speakers, you may want to consider SHARE Food Network for that!

If you are interested in having a speaker come to YOUR club, you may use the contact form below, and a representative from SHARE Food will contact YOU.

Local Girl Needs Help – Louisa County Ruritan Club Responds

At the June meeting of the Louisa County Ruritan club, the club learned about a local girl in need.

Peyton Daniel

Peyton’s Story

Peyton, a four-year old girl living in the Ruritan Rapidan District area has had many medical issues since birth. These include a VSD and PFO (holes in her heart, both spontaneously closed), prenatal stroke (due to a placental abruption), mild cerebral palsy (right sided hemiparesis), sacral lipoma, previous tethered spinal cord (laminectomy was performed) compound heterozyougs MTHFR, neurogenic bladder with retention and dyssenergia (urethral dilation helped after many failed attempts at cathing her), connective tissue disorder (EDS), and lastly an undiagnosed metabolic syndrome.

Peyton’s parents and doctors have been trying to solve the reason of a sudden onset (August 2013) of bilateral leg pain, numbness, completely absent reflexes above and below the waist, and a severe increase in her pain based on physical activity. She no longer has any sensation on the bottoms of her feet and she got a wheelchair in March for long distances. She has good days and bad days.

Peyton has seen many doctors this last year and had many tests and procedures. When her family took her to Michigan they were told that her spinal cord is attached to scar tissue from her first surgery and that is attached to her tumor, which is called a lipoma. The surgeon in Michigan is willing to be proactive with her surgery and not only de-tether her, but remove as much of her tumor as possible, since it has many nerves in it.

She will also have a muscle biopsy done at the same time, because her neuromuscular docs believe she has a metabolic disorder. On ultrasound her muscles are all abnormal and this could also be the cause of some of her reflex issues. It’s hard to tell right now which are overlapping.

That is leading the family out of state, where they will incur travel, lodging and additional insurance expenses. They just want Peyton to receive the best treatment possible. In Virginia she has been to VCU, UVA, Children’s National, INOVA and the family has contacted multiple other out of state facilities (Shriner’s, etc). This hospital and doctor in Michigan by far have the most to offer her with their vast knowledge of these types of spinal disorders as well as their ability to be as proactive as possible to stop this from happening again.

Peyton has spent so much of her life in doctor’s offices, hospitals, having blood work done, tests, and other procedures. The family is so hopeful that this surgery will help her regain back some of what she has lost this last year physically as well as hopefully find the answer to her metabolic disorder. This could be a condition that is treatable or terminal and the sooner we know the better. Peyton is such a sweet, kind, caring and brave little girl. The family knows she is going to do amazing things one day and they will do everything possible to ensure that.

Any help is greatly appreciated, whether praying, monetary or sharing of Peyton’s story. Thank you so much for your support.

There is a website set up for people to use to donate money to help cover Peyton Daniel’s expenses. To access it, click on the link in the previous sentence.

The Louisa County Ruritan Club has agreed to donate $1,000 towards this worthy cause. The cause was discussed at the Zones 2 & 3 Dinner Meeting held on 6/25/14. The Rapidan District Cabinet will take up the subject at the July meeting to discuss whether the District Cabinet can assist in any way. All Ruritan clubs are being encouraged to consider helping this little girl and her family.

For more information, please use the contact form below: